So you want to know exactly what to do in your blog posts to get them fully Search Engine Optimized? You’re in the right place! There can be some confusion about the best way to optimize your posts. What can add to this confusion is that Google tweaks their algorithm every so often! But it doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, this post will break down what your blog post needs to be fully SEO optimized, and why each part matters!
Firstly, if you haven’t read my post on making a pre-writing plan for your SEO keyword strategy, go read it! You’ll want to start there to make sure you’re choosing the best keywords for your blog. This will give you the best possible chance to rank for your chosen keywords.
Once you’ve found your perfect keyword(s), continue reading!
There’s so much more than just adding in keywords to a blog post to get it to rank. Google is looking at a range of blog post characteristics which make up their algorithm of 200+ factors(!). Here’s the most important ones to make your your blog posts are SEO Optimized.
SEO Made Easy: What your Blog Posts Need & Why it Matters
Using your Keywords
The most important part of SEO is still to use your chosen keyword throughout your post. Your keyword should feature naturally in your post. For a concrete goal, aim to use it 1-3 times per 500 words.
It’s also ok to use variations of your chosen keyword, or synonymous keywords. These will still get tracked by Google and also show that your blog post has been more naturally written.
Make sure you don’t use the same keyword for more than one blog post. If you do, these blog posts will end up competing against each other in Google (rather than having all the ‘SEO juice’ go towards the one post). If you’re struggling to do this, you may need to get more specific in your posts to avoid wanting to use the same keyword. Long-tail keywords will help with this and also create a web of content on your site that Google loves. For more on choosing the right keywords, read this post.
Use an Appropriate Blog Post Heading
Make sure your blog post heading uses your chosen keyword. Preferably, the keyword will feature at the start of the heading, but this isn’t always possible or necessary. Stats show that only 2 out of 10 people will click through to a blog post from the headline. Writing an enticing heading that includes your keyword will help encourage clicks. More traffic will add to your post’s authority, and in turn Google will take notice of this and may even bump you up the results page.
An enticing headline on the first page of Google can even encourage someone to click on the third or fourth result, rather than the top result. I always write a few different headline versions before picking one that would be the most attractive to readers.
Add in Sub-Headings
A well-written blog post will include sub-headings. Your keyword can be included in these, although don’t feel pressure to include it in every sub-heading if it doesn’t feel natural. A well-structured post that includes H1, H2, H3 etc headings can even make it possible to be featured in a Google ‘snippet’ (where they feature a paragraph from a web page at the top of the search results), or help answer one of the related questions boxes that also appear on Google’s SERP.
Create a Structure
Similar to sub-headings, your blog post needs to have a well-defined structure. An easy-to-read structure is more than just having orderly words on a page. Some ways to include structure in a blog post are:
- Including dot-point lists where appropriate
- Including indented, numbered lists
- Breaking up large paragraphs of text into smaller, more readable sections
- Breaking up text with images
- Including white space.
Having a great structure will result in people staying on your page longer. Readers won’t tire as easily when compared to reading a straight block of text. Having a longer ‘session time’ is something Google also takes into account, so you can see why structuring your post for easy-reading is important!
Add in Images
As you’ve just read, images play a part in defining the structure of your blog post. Images, as a standalone feature also carry a lot of SEO power. Most importantly you’ll need to make sure your images load quickly and have relevant file names and alt tags that include your chosen keyword.
Proper SEO etiquette on your images will help your blog post rank, but they can also rank for themselves in the Google Images search page. Read this post for a full rundown of how to optimize your images for SEO.
Fill out your Focus Keyword & Meta Description
As part of an SEO plugin, you’ll be able to fill out your focus keyword and meta description. Your focus keyword is just that – the keyword you’ve chosen to target in your post. Your meta description is the blurb that generally shows under your page heading on the Google SERP. You’ll want to include your keyword in the meta description, make the meta short enough that it doesn’t get cut off the page, and entice readers to click through to your page with it.
The URL permalink is the direct URL link to your blog post. Generally, it will automatically take your blog post heading and add it to the end of your domain name (eg yourblog.com/your-blog-post-title). This can be changed just underneath where you edit your blog post heading.
Your blog post’s permalink should include your keyword. Hopefully it’s not a long permalink – but if it is, you can remove some words to keep it shorter. Be sure to separate words in your permalink with hyphens, as Google won’t be able to interpret it otherwise.
If your blog is set up to include the blog post’s published date in the permalink, this is something you’ll want to change! When a date appears in the permalink, Google takes into account that the post may be outdated if it was written some time ago. Rather than taking into account the accumulation of the page’s traffic over time, search engines will favour newer posts, and so will readers if they see an old date.
In your blog post, it’s important to add in two types of links: internal links and external links.
Internal links are links that direct readers to other pages on your website. The best way to do this is to add them in naturally where you have related content that the reader might find helpful.
This may be harder to do if you’re just starting out blogging. But over time you’ll find that as you build up a library of blog posts, you’ll have more opportunities to link your content together. This is a great sign to Google that you have a lot of content on a topic that readers can use.
Remember to also go back over old posts and add in links to newer related posts, too!
External links are links that lead to other people’s websites. These are also important as they help show Google what kind of content is related to your post. It’s best to link to well-known, larger sites over ones that may be smaller than yours as this will help with your authority.
Be sure to tick the categories that apply to your blog post. This is another signal to Google of what your post is about and what type of audience to show it to.
You categories should be specific, based on what you blog about. Think about how an automated system (aka the algorithm) would read your categories. For example, for any blogging topic, you may want a category about tips. But be sure to label the category ‘web design tips’ or ‘budgeting tips’, as calling the category just ‘tips’ is too vague for search engines to understand.
In my post about planning your keywords, I wrote about checking your post length against your competition’s, to ensure your post is detailed enough. While SEO plugins will say you need a minimum of 300 words for a good blog post, this is very much just a starting point.
These days it’s more normal to write long-form content that’s at least 1000 words. If that seems daunting, remember to go ‘deep’ in your posts with detail, rather than ‘wide’. You’ll also find it actually gets easier to do, the more experience with it you have!
Utilize a Quality SEO Plugin
If you’re not using an SEO plugin, I strongly recommend getting one! A good recommendation and one that we use is SEOPress. Another popular one is called Yoast. An SEO plugin will help you optimize your blog posts for SEO by showing you how well you’ve met SEO criteria at the bottom of your post. They’ll also give you suggestions to improve your post and are a great tool to ensure your post is SEO ready.
Once you’ve completed all the above steps in this SEO made easy checklist, you’re ready to hit publish on your post! Remember that SEO is a long-term game, and it may take a few months before you really start to see results. If you’re still struggling to profit from your SEO efforts, there may be something else on your site that’s stopping you. Read about the three SEO ranking factors that your website needs, as these areas can commonly get overlooked.